NBA
January 22, 2021
BY Isaiah Freedman

This Week's NBA Power Rankings

Every week, Lines will bring you a fresh batch of NBA power rankings. Which teams are on the upswing? Which teams are slipping? And which ones remain stagnant? We’ve got the goods right below.

Power Rankings as of Jan. 22.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (12-4)

Previous Rank: 1

The Lakers blew a lead to the Warriors on Monday because they got complacent. But the Lakeshow have earned the benefit of the doubt because they just beat the mighty Bucks on Thursday night.

LA’s starting lineup has obliterated teams by 25 points per 100 possessions.

2. Los Angeles Clippers (11-4)

Previous Rank: 3

The Clippers keep plugging along and have won five games in a row. Keep an eye on Lou Williams, who has seen his role decrease slightly.

3. Philadelphia 76ers (10-5)

Previous Rank: 2

Joel Embiid has to be one of the early favorites for MVP. He just dropped 42 on the Celtics, and the 76ers are 0-3 when he doesn’t play.

4.  Milwaukee Bucks (9-6)

Previous Rank: 4

After losing to the Lakers on national TV, questions will surround the Bucks' chances to compete for a championship until they prove they can beat great teams. 

5. Utah Jazz (11-4)

Previous Rank: 10

The Jazz are on a tear, winning seven games in a row. Mike Conley Jr. has looked better than ever.

6. Boston Celtics (8-5)

Previous Rank: 5

Having a fresh Kemba Walker back in action is a huge boost for a thin Celtics squad. The next step is getting Jayson Tatum back on the court.

7. Phoenix Suns (8-5)

Previous Rank: 7

DeAndre Ayton just destroyed the Rockets with 26 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks. Was that a statement game, or just another flash in the pan?

8. Indiana Pacers (8-6)

Previous Rank: 6

The Pacers have been bit by the injury bug this season. Their prized trade acquisition Caris LeVert is out indefinitely, Myles Turner has a fracture in his hand and T.J. Warren is out while nursing a foot injury.

On the bright side, super-sub Jeremy Lamb has returned to play and should provide a much-needed scoring jolt.

9. Brooklyn Nets (9-7)

Previous Rank: 9

In Nets' first game where Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant all shared the court, they lost a double-overtime heartbreaker thanks to Cleveland’s Collin Sexton erupting for 42 points.

10. Portland Trail Blazers (8-6)

Previous Rank: 8

Oh, Indiana has been hit by injuries? Portland can say “Hold my beer.” In the span of a couple days, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, two of the Blazers’ three best players, will miss extended periods of time with injuries. That’s just a brutal blow for a team that already puts a lot of Damian Lillard’s plate.

11. Dallas Mavericks (7-7)

Previous Rank: 11

The Mavericks' roster is looking rather thin as starting wings Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith unavailable to play.

Thankfully, Kristaps Porzingis already looks like his old self.

12. Memphis Grizzlies (7-6)

Previous Rank: 20

The Grizzlies are relentless, and they’ve just welcomed Ja Morant back from an ankle injury. Scoring has been tough to come by, but they just keep stacking up wins.

13. Atlanta Hawks (7-7)

Previous Rank: 13

Clint Capela has added a real backbone to a previously paper-soft Hawks defense. He’s gobbling up rebounds like the Cookie Monster.

14. Denver Nuggets (7-7)

Previous Rank: 14

Michael Porter Jr. remains out because of the coronavirus, which has given Will Barton the opportunity to rack up more minutes.

15. Golden State Warriors (8-7)

Previous Rank: 15

James Wiseman had his best game of the season this week with a career-high 20 points on an efficient 8-11 from the field goal. It’s only a matter of time until his minutes shoot up.

16. San Antonio Spurs (8-7)

Previous Rank: 16

The Spurs are a solid team in need of an eventual superstar to bring all the pieces together. Unfortunately, it seems as if this current squad does not employ such a player.

Maybe Keldon Johnson, who is already looking like a quality player, will take a massive leap.

17. New York Knicks (8-8)

Previous Rank: 24

When will the Knicks realize rookie Immanuel Quickley is the best point guard on the team? Meanwhile, they currently have the top-rated defense in the league, holding teams to 102.8 points per game on 43% shooting from the field.

18. Miami Heat (6-7)

Previous Rank: 12

Gabe Vincent has filled in admirably at point guard, but the Heat could really use a top-tier scorer to help ease the burden.

Will Pat Riley make a splash if the opportunity arises?

19. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-7)

Previous Rank: 25

The Cavaliers have got to be riding high after stealing Jarrett Allen in a trade with the Nets, then watching Sexton crush the Nets’ new Big Three in double overtime.

What are Cleveland's next steps? Get Darius Garland and Kevin Love back on the court, and start sniffing for Andre Drummond trade partners.

20. Orlando Magic (7-8)

Previous Rank: 17

Cole Anthony’s buzzer-beater is the clear highlight of the week for a Magic squad that just got Evan Fournier back from injury.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-7)

Previous Rank: 18

Lu Dort for Most Improved Player is a campaign that needs to be taken seriously.

22. Toronto Raptors (5-9)

Previous Rank: 26

Chris Boucher is here to save the day. In a small sample size, a Boucher-Kyle Lowry-Norman Powell-Fred VanVleet-OG Anunoby lineup has squashed opponents.

23. Chicago Bulls (6-8)

Previous Rank: 23

Lauri Markkanen is back, which means it’s time for another round of questioning whether he and Wendell Carter Jr. can be the backbone of a winning team.

24. Charlotte Hornets (6-8)

Previous Rank: 19

The Hornets have only played one game this week thanks to multiple postponements. One key subplot has emerged: will coach James Borrego willing to give exciting rookie LaMelo Ball more playing time?

25. Houston Rockets (4-9)

Previous Rank: 22

Victor Oladipo has made an immediate impact on the Rockets, as he’s quickly become their go-to scorer alongside Christian Wood. Also, props to Mason Jones and David Nwaba for grinding out there. 

26. Sacramento Kings (5-10)

Previous Rank: 21

It’s time to play Tyrese Haliburton more minutes, considering the rookie is easily one of the team’s five best players already.

27. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-10)

Previous Rank: 27

This is just a depressing situation all around. Here’s hoping Karl-Anthony Towns is OK after contracting COVID-19.

28. New Orleans Pelicans (5-9)

Previous Rank: 29

J.J. Redick is shooting a surprisingly poor 31% from deep as New Orleans has lost seven of their last eight games.

The Pelicans are full of youngsters, so can coach Stan Van Gundy maybe pick up the pace a bit? 

29. Washington Wizards (3-8)

Previous Rank: 28

The Wizards haven’t played in what feels like ages due to COVID-19 health protocols.

30. Detroit Pistons (3-11)

Previous Rank: 30

The most interesting thing about the Pistons this season will be debating which teams Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin should be traded to.

Photo: Getty Images/Lines Illustration